ALLEMAN - An outstanding defensive effort over the final two quarters, and clutch passing from Colten Parkins in the third quarter enabled the North Polk football team to rally from 13 down to defeat Gilbert, 22-16, Friday at Alleman.
The Comets trailed 16-3 at the half. But they came up with three unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter to turn the tide.
Parkins connected with tight end Caleb Lomica on a 35-yard touchdown pass to get North Polk within seven. On the next Comet possession, Quinten Sommers hauled in a 32-yard touchdown strike from Parkins to tie the score.
North Polk went ahead late in the third quarter when Jeff Lamp capped a scoring drove with a 2-yard touchdown run. The defense held the fort the rest of the way to put the Comets at 4-3 overall and 1-2 in Class 3A District 8.
“I was really proud of how the kids dug in deep when things didn’t go well in the first half, and were able to come back and play great football in the second half,” North Polk head football coach Evan Groepper said.
A more physical game plan got the North Polk offense going in the second half. The Comets finished the game with 185 yards rushing.
“Offensively, we were able to establish the run in the second half,” Groepper said. “That allowed us to get our offense in a rhythm. Outside of one bad snap, we played pretty flawless football on offense.”
Parkins ended up completing 8 of 14 passes for 126 yards and rushing for an even 100 yards on 21 carries. Sommers caught three passes for 48 yards, Lomica two for 41, Trevor Mathis one for 29 and Ryan Fausch one for 13.
Logan Engebretson added 44 yards rushing. Lamp ran for 22 yards and Thomas Jones 19.
Defensively, North Polk also got much tougher in the trenches over the final two quarters..
“Defensively, we were so much more physical in the second half,” Groepper said. “(We) starting gaining some of our confidence back that we had been missing the last couple of weeks.”
Lomica made 10.5 tackles and one tackle for loss. Lamp had eight tackles, Dylan Meiners seven, Parkins 3.5 and Mark Cox three.
Michael Williams recovered a fumble for the only Comet forced turnover of the night.
North Polk kicker Collin Swygman showed off his big leg in the first half. Swygman accounted for all of the Comets’ points in the half with a 46-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Gilbert fell to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the district with the loss. Matt Barragy threw for 156 yards and one touchdown, Ethan Vesey ran for 93, Tucker Hansen had four receptions for 76 yards and a score and Cayden Mesken had three sacks for the Tigers.
North Polk returns home this week to face Carlisle (3-4, 1-2).
“(We’re) looking forward to our final home game against a super-physical Carlisle team,” Groepper said.
The Comet-Wildcat confrontation is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. at Comet Stadium in Alleman.
North Polk 22, Gilbert 16
G 13 3 0 0 - 16
NP 0 3 19 0 - 22
G - Mitchell Johnson 1 run (Matthew Koenig kick), 4:39.
G - Tucker Hansen 46 pass from Barragy (Koenig kick), 1:18.
NP - Collin Swygman 46 FG, 7:15.
G - Koenig 23 FG, 0:06.
NP - Caleb Lomica 35 pass from Colten Parkins (kick failed), 9:43.
NP - Quinten Sommers 32 pass from Parkins (Swygman kick), 8:45.
NP - Jeff Lamp 2 run (run failed), 0:08.
Team statistics G NP
First downs 19 19
Rushes-yards 38-172 45-185
Passing 11-27-0 8-14-0
Passing yards 156 126
Total yards 328 311
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-0
Punts-average 4-33.0 3-29.0
Penalties-yards 5-40 1-5
Rushing: G - Ethan Vesey 15-93, Mitchell Johnson 9-37, Carson Johnson 4-19, Ethan Newell 1-9, Aiden Carr 4-7, Landon Howard 3-6, Matt Barragy 2-1. NP - Colten Parkins 21-100, Logan Engebretson 12-44, Jeff Lamp 6-22, Thomas Jones 6-19.
Passing: G - Barragy 11-27-1-156. NP - Parkins 8-14-0-126.
Receiving: G - Tucker Hansen 4-76, Anthony Porter 2-39, Vesey 1-14, Carr 1-8, C. Johnson 1-8, Newell 1-7, Howard 1-4. NP - Quinten Sommers 3-48, Caleb Lomica 2-41, Trevor Mathis 1-29, Ryan Fausch 1-13, Thomas Jones 1-(-5).
Tackles: G - Cooper Hurn 7.5, Cayden Mesken 7, Porter 6.5, M. Johnson 4.5, Trey Hansen 4.5. NP - Lomica 10.5, Lamp 8, Dylan Meiners 7, Parkins 3.5, Fausch 3, Mark Cox 3.
Sacks: G - Mesken 3.
Fumble recoveries: NP - Michael Williams.